OWN VOICE ARTICLE.
I didn’t agree with Ronald Reagan on many things, but he had a great line:
“I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.” … and that line – and the fear it inspires – is relevant again today.
San Mateo County has proposed a $150 million Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan (CTMP) called Connect The Coastside. Why? Because coastal population growth has, and threatens to, worsen our traffic – to a level three times as slow as our “open road” speeds now – even AFTER spending all this money.
And are we to be the ones paying? Well, let’s divide the answer into pieces.
How much will the newcomers pay, according to the County proposal? $15 million in fees, about $6,000 per single family household.
How much will the rest of us pay? Unclear; not directly stated. But the total bill is $150M, and that leaves $135M, plus inflation, plus cost overruns, plus the stuff they admit they haven’t estimated, like roundabout maintenance and land acquisition.. And then there’s no funding specified for ongoing maintenance and eventual asset replenishment. And in public works, “Once An Asset, Always An Asset”, so you must reserve for eventual retrofitting or replacement, or else you’ll be stuck with borrowing and further increasing taxpayer costs. All of which means: they’ll be coming back to you again for more money.
There is wording in the CTMP implying a “fair share” of funding is 20% for newcomers, leaving 80% for whom? There are a variety of state and federal funding sources cited as hoped for. In reply to my inquiry, the county states: “the Connect the Coastside plan does not consider any additional taxes for current Coastside residents beyond the taxes they already pay at the federal, state and local level.” But the reality is we wouldn’t need most of that cost were it not for recent and planned growth.
In fact, the only amounts current residents should be funding are for traffic deficiencies that existed in 2014, not those that result from Big Wave, Cypress Point, and the other Population Explosions the County keeps approving. Those increases and ADU’s, short term rentals, and increased visitor traffic since the tunnel opened and became popular are the causes of our current and forecasted difficulties, NOT current residents. My guess: 90% of the projected traffic control costs are due to Newcomers and Visitors, who are pushing us past a tipping point.
I for one am skeptical that local residents won’t be asked to pay for more of that plan. And why does the County need the money? Well, first, because they don’t have it saved up…. And the lack of Reserves for projects like these is…
- Because it appears the County didn’t charge the newcomers enough in fees and taxes to fund the traffic infrastructure they overburdened and we now require.
- Because the County wants to continue to pursue a “build-out” growth vision that harms existing residents both in cost and quality of life. (Though it is notable that the CTMP admits the full build-out is not possible, and projects less than the LCP).
- Because the County hasn’t figured out how to charge the increasing volume of Visitors for the congestion they’re causing. Note: adding parking on Route 1 just means more traffic can come. Great.
For some reason, HMB Review’s recent favorable editorial on the CTMP didn’t mention the costs, nor the fact that those costs derive from recent and future growth which is causing the problem, nor that fact that 90% of the costs are currently unfunded. It’s up to you and me to get the County to fund fixes for the problems it has caused, and/or to stop growth that isn’t paying for itself.
There’s much more going on Coastside, with new population expansions, LCP amendments, public works rate increases, etc. etc. But the theme is: growth isn’t paying for itself and the infrastructure is overburdened by growth: water, sewer, new high density housing projects, etc. I am concerned that on top of degradation of quality of life, we face risks of more costs, less water, and less safety.
Bottom line: I urge you to pay attention. And then write, lobby, petition, and/or protest. How? Where? With luck, we’ll have polls and surveys here on Coastside BUZZ shortly…
~ Gregg Dieguez
5 minutes of traffic on a Dutch roundabout with bi-directional cycling lanes